Inside the New Amazon 4-Star Store, a Novelty Gift Shop
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 1.93% has seen the future of retail and it looks something like a refreshed version of a Brookstone store, the gadget purveyor that filed for bankruptcy last month.
Reminiscent of a novelty gift store or an airport gadget shop, the new Amazon 4-star storeon Thursday was selling his and hers mugs, candles, teapots, pet toys, “Star Wars” droids and vegetable peelers. Those are just some of the nearly 2,000 rotating products, including books, toys, homewares and electronics, all rated four stars or above on the online giant’s website.
Alex Skidmore, a 34-year-old physician visiting from Pittsburgh, said he strolled into the location out of curiosity. The concept made sense to him since he often finds himself filtering products based on online reviews, though the setup resembles “one of those greeting card stores where there are lots of gifts,“ he said. ”But at least you know these are high-quality products that have been tested.”
Since its founding as an online bookstore in Jeff Bezos’s garage more than two decades ago, Amazon has disrupted traditional bricks-and-mortar retail. Consumers have transferred much of their shopping online, and Amazon has set high expectations for fast shipping and customer service.
Now Amazon has turned its attention to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, developing a variety of new concepts in hopes of transforming the way consumers shop for groceries, books and devices.
The newest variation—which opened in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood Thursday—carries a rotating hodgepodge of top-rated items, each marked by a digital price tag that the company says will automatically adjust to match the prices listed online. Amazon chose the items because they are popular with shoppers on the company’s website.
Amazon 4-star’s mishmash of products are grouped using web metrics, such as top-selling items in New York City, books with more than 4.8 stars and items frequently bought together. The store also has dedicated sections for Amazon’s own electronic devices and products exclusively sold on the retailer’s website.
Retail experts said that dynamic digital price tags haven’t made it into the mainstream yet because they are expensive and difficult to get right. Plus, consumers can be suspicious of the practice.
At 4-star, each digital price tag shows the product’s star rating, the number of reviews, the online list price and the price for the company’s membership program known as Prime. Nonmembers pay the list price. The digital price tags should automatically update with online price fluctuations, but the cash register should also ring up the current online price if it lags behind.